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Home » The Papers: ‘Strikes To Escalate’ And ‘toxic’ Sandhurst Culture

The Papers: ‘Strikes To Escalate’ And ‘toxic’ Sandhurst Culture

Image caption, The likelihood of escalating strike action next year leads several front pages. The i reports that thousands of railway workers will be asked to support further strikes in January, as unions reveal plans to ballot groups of workers separately to expand the number of walkouts. The paper says this could mean “rolling” industrial action across consecutive days is possible, creating “maximum disruption to rail passengers”.

Image caption, Union leaders have been accused of planning a “de facto general strike” next year by a Tory MP, the Daily Mail’s lead story says. The paper also reports Strike Map, which it describes as a “union-backed” organisation, has launched a loyalty card scheme for activists to get rewards for attending as many picket lines they can in the coming weeks.

Image source, AFP

Image caption, Meanwhile, two thirds of junior doctors are considering leaving the NHS, according to a survey featured in the Daily Mirror. The paper says the “rising discontent” among junior doctors is “fuelling concerns they will strike”, as the British Medical Association is due to ballot over walkouts in January.

Image caption, A charity has urged the Sandhurst military academy to address a “toxic culture” of sexual assault of women during their training, according to the Daily Telegraph. Salute Her UK, which helps servicewomen who have experienced sexual abuse and rape, said senior military officers and the government must confront “predatory behaviour” at the prestigious training centre, the paper says. In response, the Ministry of Defence said the armed forces had a “zero tolerance approach” to sexual assault and a new independent serious crime unit would ensure anyone found guilty faces “the full weight of the law”.

Image caption, Thousands of cancer patients are “stranded in isolation” without support over the rising cost of living, the Daily Express reports. The Macmillan Cancer Support charity has found that one in five people being treated for the disease are seeing family and friends less, while over half are struggling to pay their bills, the paper says.

Image caption, Plans to reform Prevent, the government’s flagship anti-terror programme, have been delayed after it triggered a cabinet “row”, the Times says. The paper says Home Secretary Suella Braverman is ready to publish the findings of an independent review, but Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove – who is responsible for the scheme – is objecting to plans to redact names of some organisations accused of spreading extremism.

Image caption, The Financial Times leads with the news that China will remove its travel quarantine rules on 8 January, as part of a broader loosening of the country’s strict Covid rules. But the paper also reports that computer modelling has indicated there could be as many as a million deaths in China as cases rise rapidly.

Image caption, A “gang of feral pigs on the loose” is causing havoc in a Cumbrian seaside resort, according to the Daily Star’s lead story. The animals have been named the “Porky Blinders” for their destructive rooting and aggressive confrontations with the locals in Silloth, near Carlisle, and are thought to have escaped from local farmland sold off recently, the paper says.

The looming prospect of further strike action in the new year features heavily on the front pages.

The TSSA rail union is planning to escalate strikes in the new year, according to the i’s lead story. A spokesperson tells the paper that different groups of workers, like station staff and controllers, will be balloted about industrial action separately. This would allow each group to walk out on a different day within the same week, causing more disruption, the paper says.

Some Conservative MPs have told the Daily Mail that unions are plotting a “de facto general strike in 2023”. The paper says a “union-backed” organisation called Strike Map has launched a scheme offering prizes to left-wing activists who attend multiple picket lines, even if they work in a different industry. But the paper also reports that the RMT union and industry bosses are “nearly there” in their efforts to agree a pay deal.

An editorial in the Daily Telegraph says the walkouts are causing untold damage to the economy, arguing the government needs to consider much more robust ways of breaking strikes. The paper also calls on ministers to introduce legislation requiring unions to provide a minimum service in industries outside public transport like the NHS.

The Times says an overhaul of the government’s counter-extremism programme, Prevent, has been delayed by a cabinet row between Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.

The paper reports Ms Braverman is ready to publish an independent review that was completed in the summer and to accept all its recommendations, but adds she wants to remove from the report the names of individuals and groups accused of extremism over fears the Home Office could be exposed to libel claims. However, according to the article, Mr Gove believes the names should be published to provide the most accurate picture of extremism.

The Guardian says hundreds of voluntary organisations have been forced to close or scale back operations because of government delays in replacing EU funds. The paper says exact allocations from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund have now been announced – but the Welsh government says Wales is getting £772m less than it used to under EU funding. The UK government denies this is the case, but Scotland also says it’s worse off.

Under the headline “Sandhurst urged to tackle toxic culture”, the Daily Telegraph highlights calls for the military academy to take action over what’s described as an epidemic of sexual assault. A charity for female military personnel who’ve experienced sexual assault and rape, Salute Her UK, says nearly 200 women have sought help after suffering abuse at Sandhurst, over a period of 20 years.

The charity’s chief executive, Paula Edwards, tells the paper that a lack of action by those at the top had resulted in a “toxic culture of sexual assault”. In response, the Ministry of Defence said it had a “zero tolerance approach” to sexual assault in the armed forces.

“Clueless” is the Sun’s verdict of police forces in England and Wales, after official figures showed that investigations into more than a million burglaries and thefts were dropped last year because detectives couldn’t find a suspect. The proportion of all crimes that result in a suspect being arrested and charged has fallen to just 5.7% – down from 15% seven years ago.